I've been a product manager for a year and a half. That came to an end this week and I'll be returning to a life of front-end development.

Product management at Shopify has been in a bit of limbo for a few months while the CEO considered a possible restructuring. That restructuring happened. But what problem needed to be solved, organizationally?

Shopify continues to grow, with many new teams splitting off to specialize in various parts of the Shopify ecosystem. This has been sorely needed. But each new team didn't necessarily require a dedicated product manager. Often, a person within the team—a dev or designer—can act as that product captain. We had naturally seen that occur on a few teams already.

With all of these teams, though, I felt we were missing someone overseeing some of this work, leading to inconsistencies within the product. I wasn't the only one who felt this way. As a result, product directors were put in place to manage the handful of product concerns within Shopify and a mix of product managers and product captains report to the product directors.

The short-term impact of this on the practice of product management within Shopify has been a shrinking of the product team. The long-term impact remains to be seen but there's hope that more people from beyond the product team will feel empowered to push the product in exciting ways. (At least, that's my hope from these changes.)

While I wanted to be a product director and pushed hard to get the role, it didn't happen. Instead, I'll be moving back into front-end development, to push the speed at which we develop products from a different angle—one that I'm quite familiar with.

Alas, this is the end of this short-lived adventure in product management. At least, for now. Thanks for following along.

Published August 24, 2014
Categorized as Product Management
Short URL: https://snook.ca/s/1040


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Richard Banfield said on August 25, 2014

This article highlights an issue we have dealt with in the past. Product Management (especially the Product Director role) is different from Project Management. Product managers are responsible for the overall product vision, managing the resources (people stuff) and the roadmap (the strategy) for getting there. Project managers are responsible for getting the logistics, scheduling, planning and allocations done. Think of is as the Product Manager being the CEO of the product and the Project Manager being the COO of the product.

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